Prague has one of the highest rates of pickpocketing in Europe. Be aware of this risk and take measures to protect yourself from being a pickpocket's victim in the Czech capital. All it requires is awareness of your surroundings, taking easy precautions, and knowledge about how this type of thief operates.
High-Risk Pickpocket Areas
Your risk of pickpockets increases when you visit Prague's touristy areas. These and other crowded areas will see more action from streetside scammers during the high season, when more tourists flock to the city and visit major attractions and important locales. These areas include:
- Charles Bridge
- Karlova Street
- Old Town Square
- Wenceslas Square
Thieves don't limit their activities to these areas. They hang out in any crowded area. People have also been pickpocketed on Prague subway and tram cars.
Avoiding Prague Pickpockets
Prague pickpockets are professionals, and they can steal your money, credit cards, and other valuables without attracting notice. To avoid Prague pickpockets:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Being aware is the number one pickpocket-avoidance strategy. Not only will being aware allow you to know what's going on around you, if you make yourself look aware, pickpockets may move on to an easier victim.
- Don't underestimate the pickpockets' skill. Practiced ruses, teamwork, and an eye for the unaware are some of the tools they use to steal travelers' money.
- Take only what you need for that day and leave the rest in your hotel safe – extra cash, credit cards, and your passport. Even if a pickpocket picks you as a victim, you won't be cleaned out if you follow this strategy.
- If you see money lying on the sidewalk, leave it lay. Some scammers glue money to the sidewalk and prey on those who stoop to pick it up.
- Always be cautious if someone runs into you and spills a drink or ice cream on your clothing. This is another known ruse to distract the victim in order to gain access to their belongings.
- Never change money on the street. Use designated cash exchanges to avoid being dangerously ripped off.
Carrying Your Money Safely
How you carry your money determines, in part, your likelihood of being pickpocketed. Use the following tips:
- Carry your money close to you. Some people prefer money belts as the safest option.
- If you don't like the idea of a money belt, use a pocket-sized walled. Slip your hand into your pocket and clutch the wallet when you enter crowded spaces.
- If you carry your money in a bag, choose a bag designed with a top that closes securely. In crowded areas and on public transportation, carry the bag in front of you with your arm pressed against the opening. Bags with shorter straps are easier to keep close to you than bags with long straps.
- For minor transactions, keep petty cash in a separate compartment to keep from flashing all your money when you pay for your purchases.
- If you travel with a backpack, keep the backpack in front of you or under your arm. Pickpockets are adapt at accessing backpacks that are worn in the traditional manner without the owner knowing it.
When you travel to Prague will also determine your likelihood of running into thieves. The shoulder seasons will mean fewer crowds, giving you ample space to survey your surroundings, while high summer means the best opportunities for pickpockets to choose who to steal from.